I spend most of my clothing budget on cute things to wear for summer vacations. Never mind that our weather is cold-to-freezing for 6 months of the year! I sat down and figured out what pieces I should own to get through a typical Nova Scotia winter, from November to April.
Winters aren’t typical any more, but I still need to crank up my budget for winter wardrobe building. Ultimately I take it more seriously than dressing for summer, because outer wear can be expensive, and I want to buy things that will last a couple or ten years.
Here’s what I think my minimal winter work wardrobe should include, followed by what I actually own:
- 3 heavy-weight pullover sweaters (have: 2)
- 3 long-sleeve under-layer T-shirts (have: 8, but they are worn 3 seasons)
- 2 light-weight sweaters (have: 2)
- 1 shirt or blouse (have: 5)
- 1 heavy-weight cardigan (have: 3)
- 2 business-wear jackets (have: 2)
- 3 pair dress pants – 1 solid matte, 1 textured, 1 with shine (have: 6)
- 1 pair dark-wash jeans (don’t have)
- 1 pair flats (have: 2)
- 1 pair medium heels (have: 2)
For casual wear, I would add corduroy pants, jeans and 18 hoodies (J/K, but you know how I adore hoodies!) Oh yeah, and flannel pajamas!
This month I bought a few pieces to pull together two special occasion outfits: a pair of paisley stretch skinny cords with an open-weave sparkly black sweater; and a heavy-weight red knit cardigan with nice details to wear with black shiny trousers. Both tops require a visible under-layer which will be a close-fitting black long-sleeve top. I was tempted to use a long-sleeved black T-shirt I already own, because I am cheap, but that’s really not appropriate for the occasions I’ll be attending – it’s too matte and faded. I had to fork out for a top with a nice fit and finish! But these two outfits will get me through 5-6 events this month.
Outerwear is a whole other story. My essential list is:
- 1 zip-up, insulated, water-resistant parka – for everyday and weekends
- 1 hip-length wool coat with buttons – for dressier occasions and colder weather (blocks wind completely)
- 1 old parka to wear when snow shovelling
- 1 pair waterproof rain pants (don’t have snow pants, that would imply I did winter sports, like, outdoors or something!)
- 1 pair tall, lined boots for warmth
- 1 pair hiking boots with serious traction (need to replace)
- Not essential: I have 2 pairs of short unlined fashion boots
- 1 pair driving gloves
- Other: various scarves, mittens, hats, boot socks and skating socks
I have a few strategies for winter dressing. First of all, I am always cold. So there is no chance I will wear sleeveless or short-sleeved tops, or anything open at the neck. Full coverage only! I might force myself to do it for New Year’s Eve, but only under duress. Next, I see no point in layering so that I can add and subtract as needed. There is no chance I will get too warm and want to take anything off. Any layers I wear stay put! I also do “invisible layering,” such as wearing a tank top or even a long-sleeved T-shirt under a sweater. Maybe that’s because I grew up wearing an “undershirt” in the winter. If I spend any time outdoors at all, I wear tights under my trousers. And I wear tall lined boots, not just to keep my feet dry in wet weather, but for warmth.
Things I don’t have, other than skimpy evening wear, are brand name gear such as UGGS (don’t like ‘em) and Canada Goose (love ‘em!)
The other factors under consideration are that I work partly in an office and partly in public service. I spend hours at my computer, or hours serving customers while chilly blasts blow through the library doors. But in all honesty, I do not do enough physical labour to ever warm up. Also, I drive to and from work, so I am rarely outside, except to scrape frost off the windshield. So despite the long winter, cold and snow, I am relatively sheltered – and not that keen to stay in the great outdoors. Although my tolerance does increase after a few mornings of snow shovelling! I just don’t look very fashionable doing it.
What are your cold weather essentials?